893.61331/68: Telegram

The Ambassador in China (Johnson) to the Secretary of State

529. Embassy’s 513, October 24, 2 p.m. The Embassy October 24, 2 p.m., directed Shanghai to ascertain from the Lienhwa Company whether the obstructions at Hsuchang had been removed. Hankow reported October 28, 11 a.m. as follows:

“Following is translation of telegram received today from Honan Provincial Government in reply to my telegram of October 20th:

‘Your telegram of the 20th has been noted. In connection with the temporary leasing of a warehouse at Hsuchang by the Lienhwa Leaf Tobacco Company, this Government has instructed Administrative Inspector Hsu at Hsuchang to afford protection in accordance with his instructions. A special reply.’ ”

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Shanghai reported as follows:

“October 28, 1 p.m. My October 26, noon. Lienhwa Company today received telegram from representative that Hsuchang magistrate approved lease of premises but cannot give permission for company to commence operations until Honan Provincial Government at Kaifeng approves company’s buying procedure. Lienhwa Company accordingly requests that consular representative be detailed to join company’s representative, Macon, at Hsuchang to proceed to Kaifeng in order to expedite matters”.

The Embassy instructed Hankow as follows:

“October 31, 9 a.m. Your October 28, 11 a.m.; Shanghai’s October 28, 1 p.m. The American authorities in this case are concerned only with obtaining for the Lienhwa Company the right, guaranteed by the Sino-Japanese treaties of 1895 and 1896,68 of purchasing leaf tobacco in Honan and obtaining temporary warehouse facilities for use in that connection; the American authorities would not desire to become concerned with negotiations which the company69 in regard to its buying procedure except in so far as treaty rights are involved. In the light of these circumstances, and in view of the Hsuchang magistrate’s acquiescence, as reported in Shanghai’s October 28, 1 p.m., your opinion is requested as to the desirability of sending a consular officer to Hsuchang and Kaifeng. Is there still legitimate assistance to be rendered to the company of such importance as to justify such a detail?”

Hankow replied as follows:

“November 1, 2 p.m. Peiping’s October 31, 9 a.m. From the information that has been furnished to this office it seems clear that there is strong local opposition to the Lienhwa Company buying and shipping leaf tobacco at Hsuchang and that the Honan authorities are not anxious to have the company commence operations there. Although some progress has been made towards removing the obstacles placed in the way of the company there is nothing to show that either the Honan authorities or the local interests opposed to the Lienhwa Company are reconciled to the company doing business at Hsuchang and that the company will not encounter further obstruction and delay. I believe it would be useful to send an officer to Hsuchang to investigate the situation on the ground. If the Embassy approves, I shall send Stevens there on November 4th (he cannot be spared sooner) with instructions to proceed to Kaifeng if as a result of his investigation he finds that direct conversations with the Provincial Government are necessary or desirable in order to obtain for the Lienhwa Company the rights to which they are entitled by treaty. He will, of course, be guided, in his decision to proceed to Kaifeng and in anv conversations he may have with the authorities there or elsewhere, by the principles laid down in the Embassy’s telegram of October 31, 9 a.m.”

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The Embassy, November 2, 1 p.m., instructed Hankow that the proposed detail of Stevens to Honan was approved under the instructions as outlined. Stevens will arrive at Hsuchang November 5.70

  1. Treaty of Commerce and Navigation, signed at Peking, July 21, 1896, MacMurray, Treaties, 1894–1919, vol. i, p. 68.
  2. Sentence apparently garbled at this point.
  3. The Ambassador in China in his despatch No. 881, November 27, reported that Mr. Stevens’ interview with the Hsuchang magistrate bore favorable results, as the Lien Hwa Company could commence buying operations (893.61331/79).